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Eighth I nternational Conference on d ryland d evelopment

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Eighth International Conference on Dryland Development

25-28 February 2006, Beijing, China

Abstracts of Papers Presented

Edited by

Mohan C. Saxena

International Dryland Development Commission

February 2006

© International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), 2006



  1. Plenary Session Presentations 3

  1. Concurrent Session Presentations 14

Theme 1: Soil and water conservation and degradation 14

^ Theme 2: Dust-storm process 49

Theme 3: Range management 62

Theme 4: Forage and livestock production 69

Theme 5: Biodiversity and Ethnobotany 73

Theme 6: Stress physiology 78

Theme 7: Renewable energy 91

Theme 8: Indigenous/traditional knowledge and heritage 94

Theme 9: Sustainable development of oasis; desert communities and socioeconomic

studies; and role of non-governmental organizations 98

Theme 10: Application of new technologies and technology transfer;

crop improvement for dry areas 122

^ Plenary Session Presentations

1. Future challenges to the sustainable use of natural resources in the dry areas

Prof. Dr. Adel El- Beltagy

Director General, ICARDA, Aleppo, Syria

E-mail: A.El-Beltagy@cgiar.org

The dry areas of the world are particularly prone to desertification. An estimated 80 million people are affected annually. The deterioration of vegetative cover, wind and water erosion, salinization, and the degradation of soil fertility and structure are all manifestations of desertification. Nearly 50% of the arid regions globally, including one-quarter of the irrigated land, one-half of the rainfed cropland and three-quarters of the rangeland, are estimated to be degraded. Unless this trend is checked, the food security of the people in the dry areas will continue to be under threat.

In attempting to develop options for the development of drylands there is an urgent need to improve the livelihoods of the poor, while at the same time protect natural resources of land, water and biodiversity. Experience has shown that simple recipe solutions that tend to be sectoral do not function efficiently and that there is a need for customizable toolkits and options that can be tailored by communities to meet their priorities. Such toolkits and methods are knowledge intensive, requiring greater attention to knowledge management and exchange including new institutional arrangements and greater attention to informal and community social structures.

Through consultations at a broad level, ICARDA has developed an integrated multisectoral approach that distilled the main question: ‘how can poverty in desertification-prone areas be reduced and the poor achieve stable, secure livelihoods without undermining the ecosystem goods and services that they vitally depend on?’

Under a new consortium called the ‘Desertification, Drought, Poverty and Agriculture’ a set of six inter-related research themes were proposed: Understanding and coping with land degradation and drought risk; Managing and restoring ecosystem functions; Policy and institutional options; Harnessing genetic resources; Diversifying systems and livelihoods; and Knowledge and technology sharing.

Examples of how ICARDA is contributing to these themes are presented.

^ 2. The future dimensions of drylands in the implementation of the UNCCD

Dr. Franklin Moore

Director Environment and Science Policy, USAID, Ronald Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington,DC 20523-2110, USA

Implementation of the UNCCD will focus on activities to meet the needs of people living in dry lands while enhancing measures to combat desertification.  While the Convention will focus on seven areas, there are four that are of a particular interest to the International Conference on Dry LandsDevelopment:

1. Measures for the rehabilitation of degraded land;

2. Drought and desertification monitoring and assessment;
3. Access and use of appropriate technology, knowledge and know-how; and 4. Linkages and synergies with other environmental conventions and national development strategies.

The paper deals with these four areas histrically and provides perspective for future.

^ 3. Sustainable development for fragile ecosystems

Prof Dr. Adli Bishay

Friends of Environment and Development Association (FEDA) Board Chairman, Emeritus Professor AUC, Cairo, Egypt

E-mail: feda@idsc.net.eg

The mission of Friends of Environment and Development Association (FEDA) is to implement strategies for sustainable development in Egypt, as put forward by a special UNDP Task Force coordinated by the author. The Bruntland definition of sustainable development was adopted and its framework was based on a dynamic balance between (a) resource management, (b) environmental protection, and (c) human and economic development. To achieve this balance, we require appropriate management, necessary financial resources, and R& D with emphasis on optimization between the ecological and economic dimensions of development. Public participation (social & political), adequate infrastructure and efficient support services are also of utmost importance in implementing strategies for sustainable development. It was realized by FEDA's Board that it would be more realistic and effective to limit its implementation activities to fragile ecosystems, namely coastal, desert and historic areas. Since 1993 we have been working in Rosetta (coastal area), Wadi Natroun (desert area) and Gamalia district (historic part of Cairo). These three fragile ecosystems, though different in location, climate and natural resources, are well known for their cultural heritage. Both Gamalia and Rosetta have some of the most important Islamic monuments, while Wadi Natroun is known for its famous Coptic Christian monasteries. FEDA's sustainable development objective is to implement projects leading to upgrading of these fragile ecosystems with the goal of improving the quality of life of its residents and encouraging tourism. For this to be achieved we need to deal with both human and environmental aspects.

The paper reviews some of the steps taken towards achieving sustainable development in these fragile ecosystems through (a) upgrading physical conditions and improving infrastructure of demonstration areas, (b) developing democratic community structure through information management, monitoring and public awareness as well as capacity building and initiation of local organizations, and (c) improving living conditions of the inhabitants with respect to social, educational, cultural, health, environment and economic support through training and technological upgrading.

^ 4. Progress in aeolian desertification in China

Prof Dr. Wang Tao

Director General, Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (CAREERI), Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, 730000, China; E-mail: wangtao1108@yahoo.com

Aeolian desertification is land degradation characterized by wind erosion mainly resulting from the excessive human activities in arid, semiarid and part of sub-humid regions in North China. The research on aeolian desertification has been underway for more than 5 decades leading to the establishment and development of China’s desert science. Researches in this field have made a great contribution to the national economic reconstruction and the protection of the environment.

This paper focuses on the major progress in the aeolian desertification research in China during last 50 years, including fundamental studies, monitoring and assessment, vegetation succession, landscape ecology, plant physiology, impact on ecosystem, efficient use of water and land resources and sustainable development in desertified regions, the process of aeolian desertification and its control models and techniques including different studied periods, deserts formation and evolution, origin of sand materials to the deserts, the history of evolution of sand deserts and aeolian land, landscape of the main sand deserts, sandy lands and aeolian desertified land.

We suggest that the key fields of desertification research of China in the future should be the blown sand physics, process of sand storm, ecology of desert environment and desertified region restoration, water and land resource utilization and sustainable development of agriculture in desertified regions, and desertification reversion and control.

^ 5. The role of traditional hydrotechnology in dryland development: Karez, Qanat and Foggara

Prof Dr. Iwao Kobori

United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan; E-mail: Kobori@hq.unu.edu

Karez (Kan-er-jing) in Xinjiang, China is a well known traditional underground irrigation system, which is still used in Turpan basin. However, introduction of pumping well and open canal system in the area has serious impact on this traditional system. Similar phenomena are occuring in Iran (Qanat) and North Africa (Foggara).

Recently, international organizations such as UNU, UNCCD, UNESCO, EC (European Commission) have paid attention to rehabilitation and sustainable development of these traditional systems. The author has been working on this subject in the past 50 years around the world, and would like to discuss key issues on this subject.

^ 6. The use of spatial data for integrated agricultural planning and


Prof Dr. Ayman Abou Hadid

Director, Arid Lands Agricultural Research and Services Center (ALARC), Ain Shams University and Supervisor, Division of Agricultural Applications and Marine Sciences, National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences (NARSS), Cairo, Egypt;

E-mail: ruafah@rusys.eg.net

The agricultural production depends on the utilization of natural resources for intensive cropping systems. Plant production actually is a function of several climatic and edaphic factors. The use of climatic data for the estimation of water requirements is a major tool to rationalize water consumption. Estimating evapotranspiration from the climatic data is a well established technique. The problem is the need to have surface agro-meteorological equipment on the location, which is expensive especially in remote areas where new land reclamation projects take place.

The aim of this work was to establish a polynomial fitting for the air temperature based on hourly climatic measurements as a first step. The second step was to have a correlation between air temperature and canopy temperature for different agricultural conditions. Having these two algorithms allows the researcher to use the NOAA satellite images to calculate canopy temperature and transform it to air temperature, then using the air temperature parameter to calculate evapotranspiration.

Climatic factors affect the crop water requirements, time of cultivation, length of crop stand in the field, tolerance to pests and diseases, economic viability of agricultural production, and finally the total yield and product quality. The starting point of any agricultural development is to understand the prevailing climate. Early planting is one of the options for summer-cultivated crops in order to get the maximum economical yield. Early prediction for diseases and insects is important to help the farmers avoid heavy spray of pesticides and take necessary actions to avoid diseases. The use of climatic data could help in providing tools for proper pest management through the possibility of forecasting the incidence of pests and diseases, and hence reduce the risk in plant production and help to minimize the amounts of chemicals used to control pests.

Agricultural decision support system with mathematical and logical models is linked with a Geographical Information System (GIS) to provide tools for planning the land utilization and resource management options. The advantage of using spatial data for the calculation of evapotranspiration is the wide coverage of large areas especially in new land reclamation projects where it is difficult to establish surface stations. The results showed a high potential for using this approach to estimate irrigation requirements at low cost and for wide areas of land.

^ 7. Jatropha curcas L., an excellent source of renewable energy in the dry areas

Prof Dr. Mohan C. Saxena

Senior Advisor to DG, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), P.O. Box 5466, Aleppo, Syria. (E-mail: m.saxena@cgiar.org )

Increasing industrialization in the developing world is leading to spiraling increase in the demand of fossil fuel. Because of finite nature of fossil fuel reserves, the demand can not be met on sustained basis. In addition, the green-house gas emissions from fossil fuel are taking a heavy toll of the environment and contributing to global warming. Developing a reliable source of renewable energy is therefore attracting a major global attention. Several crop and tree species are good source of products that can be processed to produce bio-fuel on a sustained basis.

In the arid and semi-arid regions, particularly on the degraded lands and lands affected by moving sands, ^ Jatropha curcas L. has proved to be a promising oil-bearing tree.

The seeds of this Euphorbiaceae tree contain more than 30 % oil, which can be used for making bio-diesel. The seed cake produced after oil expulsion is rich in nitrogen (> 5 %), phosphorus (>2.5% P2O5) and potassium (1% K2O) and can be converted into valuable organic manure for improving physical and chemical properties of the soil. The plant propagates freely from seeds as well as from cuttings and can start producing fruits in two to three years after establishment. It is well adapted to the harsh environments of desert margins, and can withstand drought once it is established through supplemental irrigation in the dry areas.

Preliminary studies have shown that it could prove a very promising species for rehabilitating degraded areas and protecting the land from wind erosion when introduced in dry areas within the framework of watershed management. A well established plantation of J. curcas could produce on good soil on an average about 5 tons seed/ha/year giving 1500 kg/ha oil and 2500 kg/ha seed cake. However, under marginal conditions a yield of 1.5 tons seed/ha can be expected. The crop is being promoted as a valuable source of bio-fuel produced on degraded drylands in several developing countries.

The government of India has a very ambitious plan for promoting J.curcas production on degraded lands and the private sector and the non-governmental organizations are providing technical support to farmers to harness full benefit from this valuable plant.

^ 8. Living with desert: ‘CWANA-Plus’ partnership

Prof Dr. Hans Van Ginkel

Rector, United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan

E-mail: rector@hq.unu.edu

The CWANA-Plus (CWANA+) Partnership is a joint initiative by United Nations University (UNU) and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). The intent is to foster South–South cooperation on sharing experts and facilities, training scientists, and promoting the best practices among centres of excellence in sustainable dryland development across the vast CWANA (Central and West Asia and North Africa) region plus neighbouring dry areas in Western China, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. The strategy used is to capitalise on the existing networks of ICARDA and UNU to link relevant centres of excellence in research and capacity building; identify the research gaps, and select partners to reach out in these areas. The anticipated key outcomes of the CWANA+ network are: (1) An extensive regional network for information exchange and sharing of successful experiences in sustainable management of drylands; (2) Development of collaborative activities amongst partners in the network, through the identification of research gap and available financial resources; and (3) Enhanced capacity building and academic cooperation within the network and with the rest of the world. Three examples of the ongoing activities will be used to illustrate the operation of the CWANA+ Partnership.

^ 9. Agricultural water consumption management in Iran considering aridity and drought incidences

Drs. H. Dehghanisanij1, A. Keshavarz2, and N. Heydari3

1Agricultural Engineering Research Institute (AERI), P.O.Box 31585-845, Karaj, Iran. (E-mail: dehghanisanij@yahoo.com)

2Seed and Plant Improvement Research Institute (SPII), P.O.Box 31585-4119, Karaj, Iran. (E-mail: keshavarz1234@yahoo.com)

3Agricultural Engineering Research Institute (AERI), P.O.Box 31585-845, Karaj, Iran.

(E-mail: nrheydari@yahoo.com)

The Islamic Republic of Iran is located in one of the most arid regions of the world. About 64.7% (105 million ha) of country's total area has an arid to semi-arid climate. The average annual precipitation is 252 mm, which is one-third of the world's average precipitation. This low amount falls with high temporal and spatial variability. Beside aridity, drought is also a potential threat to agricultural productivity in Iran. Therefore, food and agricultural production in Iran is highly dependent on proper use of water in agriculture. Analysis of past meteorological data indicated that average rainfall during 1995-2000 was less than the average of the last thirty years. The agricultural sector in Iran is one of the most important economic sectors of the country, and water scarcity is the most limiting factor for agricultural expansion and higher production. Due to limitation in water resources and low possibility to increase new water resources, the needed increase in agricultural production can be obtained only by the use of technical and scientific methods to increase agricultural water productivity (WP). The overall agricultural water productivity, which is defined as the amount of crop production per unit amount of water applied for irrigated crops or per millimeter of precipitation for dry land farming crops, presently is about 0.8 (kg/m3). This is very low and needs to be increased to about 1.6-2.0 kg/m3 by year 2020 to meet the projected demand of food and other agricultural products. Use of crop varieties with higher drought resistance and changing the cropping pattern to get better use of environment as well as improvement of farm-management practices are key to increase WP in Iran. Overall, we need to adapt our agriculture with aridity and drought and WP concept would have a key role in our decision making process.

  1. ^ Development of dryland China from historical view: a case of development of the natural oasis and its desertification over the last 2000 years in Minqin basin

Prof Dr. Fa-Hu Chen and Dr. Yao-Wen Xie

Center for Arid Environment and Paleoclimate Research (CAEP), Key Laboratory of West China's Environmental System (Ministry of Education), Lanzhou University, China,730000;

E-mail: fhchen@lzu.edu.cn

Most natural oases in the western China’s dryland have been changed to irrigated farmland over the 2000 years when Han Chinese brought advanced agriculture techniques into dryland China. Consequently, dryland has been overused and consequently desertified. The Minqin Oasis in arid China is a very good example. The oasis desertification over the last 2000 years is very typical in the arid China. Minqin Oasis is located along the ancient silk-road in the east part of Hexi Corridor and low reaches of the Shiyang River. It was a pastoral land before Han Chinese immigrated into the area. By the time of the West Han Empire, Minqin Oasis became Chinese territory after series wars and agriculture was introduced. As a result, the pastoral area changed into agricultural farmland gradually. With the acceleration of exploitation under increasing population pressure, land degradation has gradually taken place. The productive land that was once suitable for plant and fish culture became a scene of desert sea with “no irrigation, no farm”.

This study focuses on understanding the oasis desertification process over the last 2000 years, using multi-methods such as historical document, archaeology, remote sensing and geographic information system. The result shows that the human activities in Minqin Basin can be dated back to the Shajing Culture, a Neolithic culture at around 2600 years ago. Since the area became part of the territory of Han Dynasty at BC 210, the natural oases gradually changed into farmland. In Han Dynasty, the area of farmland reached up to about 14,800 ha, and during the Wei-Jin Dynasties it reached to 27,830ha. Thereafter, farmland area deceased during the period of 800 years from the South-North Dynasty to Yuan Dynasty, when grassland people invaded the area. The second intensified development of Minqin oasis began in Ming Dynasty when central government of the Ming Dynasty encouraged poor farmers in east China to develop the oasis. The area of farmland in the oasis reached 26,579ha followed by another intensive development period in Qing Dynasty with the total farmland area of 75,847ha, the highest during the history. It is found that a intensive development period of the dryland during history was always followed by a strong desertification period afterward. When a new dynasty established, a wave of developments of natural oasis into farmland oasis began, and the developed farmland in the oasis was subject to desertification in the late dynasty leading to abandoning of village and towns by the inhabitants that relied on farmland.

^ 11. Desertification and its control in India

Dr. Prakash Narayan

Director, Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Jodhpur, India and Dr. Amal Kar, CAZRI, Jodhpur, India

E-mail: pratap@cazri.res.in;, drpratapn@yahoo.com

Land degradation (including desertification in drylands) is estimated to affect at least one-third of the 328 mha geographical area in India. Drylands, constituting about 223 mha in arid, semi-arid and dry subhumid regions, are more prone to degradation on account of climatic constraints, fragility of natural resources, and high pressures of humans and animals, as well as industrialization. Arid areas (49.5 mha) are the worst affected, especially in the western part of Rajasthan state that includes the Thar Desert (20.87 m ha), as well as in arid Gujarat (6.22 m ha). Recurrent drought, high wind, poor sandy soils and very high human and livestock demand for food, fodder and fuel wood are causing over-exploitation of fragile resources, resulting in wind and water erosion, water logging, salinity-alkalinity and vegetation degradation. Dumping of mine and industrial wastes is also now contributing to desertification.

Traditional practices of water storage and conservation and mixed farming that integrates perennial trees and grasses with crop cultivation and livestock rearing, which proved as best practices for sustainability and resource conservation, are now disappearing. As a consequence, about 92% area in arid Rajasthan is now affected by desertification (30% slightly, 41% moderately and 21% severely). About 76% area is affected by wind erosion of different intensities, and 13% by water erosion. Another 4% area is affected by water logging and salinity/alkalinity. In the neighbouring arid Gujarat about 93% area is affected by desertification. Water erosion is the major problem (39%), affecting agriculture, especially in the dominantly hilly and undulating terrain of Kachchh and Saurashtra with shallow soils that are highly fragile due to slope and periodic earth movements. The other major problem is salinity (47%), which is inherent in the large barren salt marshes like the Great Rann of Kachchh but is also present in the narrow coastal plains.

About 174 m ha area in rainfed semi-arid and dry sub-humid regions are mostly affected by water erosion that is getting accelerated due to declining tree cover, land use changes with expansion of cropland and intensive mono-cropping, while the irrigated areas of these regions are being affected by water logging and salinity. Besides, the Indo-Gangetic plains of Punjab and Haryana states, with dominance of rice-wheat cultivation, are showing signs of depletion of groundwater, organic carbon, and deficiencies in essential plant nutrients.

To combat the adverse impact of these processes on finite land and water resources, India embarked upon a national policy to bring 33% of the country’s land area under forest, as well as to implement desert and drought-prone area development programmes, which include sand dune stabilization, wind erosion control, soil and water conservation in peninsular India and river valley projects, watershed development, agro-forestry, social forestry and joint forest management, salinity control, etc., through state land development departments, forest departments, R&D institutions, NGOs, and people’s participation.

The Central Arid Zone Research Institute is contributing to these efforts through research interventions. Its technology on sand dune stabilization through vegetative means has been used by the State to stabilize about 300,000 ha area of menacing sand dunes, especially on government-controlled land. Promising technologies for shelterbelts, border row plantation, plantation of tree belts across the wind and alternating with crop/grass rows that utilize remunerative native/exotic trees, shrubs and grasses for food, fuel, fodder, fruits, minor forest products like gum and resins, have also been developed for the farmers who are the major users of sand dunes in the region. Shelterbelts of a three-row wind break of Acacia tortilis, Cassia siamea and Prosopis juliflora as the side rows and Albizzia lebbek as the central row has proved promising. A number of diversified farming systems have been evolved for low-rainfall areas, which include agro-forestry, agri-horticulture and agri-silvi-pasture, to sustain livelihood during crop failure and to maintain livestock during drought. Improved practices for pasture and rangeland management, especially through silvi-horti-pastoral systems and rotational grazing, and rehabilitation of mine spoils through vegetative means have been developed and are being propagated by R&D institutions as well as state departments.

For water erosion control on arable lands, contour cultivation, bunding, graded bunding and bench terracing are adopted in conjunction with minimum tillage, cover crops, inter-cropping, strip cropping, contour vegetative barriers, etc. For non-arable lands check dams, gully plugging, stabilization of gully heads and vegetative measures are advocated. These measures and appropriate land uses are integrated on catchment basis with due regard to capability of the land. Rain water conservation, its harvesting and efficient utilization are in-built in watershed management programmes. Combating desertification through land care while enhancing agricultural productivity is the underlying principle for sustainable land management in the drylands of India.

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